Red Eye Coffee Porter

The nuptials are over, and do you know what means? Time for beer! A special beer from Two Brothers, part of their Retro Series. As part of two Brother’s 15th Anniversary in 2012 they re-released 15 of their earlier beers. The Red Eye Coffee Porter was first brewed in the Spring of 2009 and due to popular acclaim was temporarily brought back in the fall of 2009. Now it is back as part of this special offering. It is a great example of American Beer recipe ingenuity. Take some rye, which is popular in German Brews, take a Porter from England, Americanize it, and throw in some coffee beans, not technically traditional in Porter, but we don’t take kindly to tradition in these parts.

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The days of summer are ending and that means no more ice cream shops, but fear not, take a sniff of this beer and you will be taken right back there. Take a sip. Yes I know. You still think that you are in the ice cream shop. I had to bring you back to reality, but you aren’t. Your probably sitting at home, but you are drinking Red Eye Coffee Porter and that is good.

You would kind of expect more bitterness from so dark a beer, but it is a big beer and the hops are downplayed, but as the beer warms up, the bitterness along with the spiciness from the rye really comes forward and rounds it out nicely.

The carbonation is very low, which is immediately noticeable as soon as you start pouring. The off-white head is small and does not last long. The lacing does not last on the glass. On the other hand, the body is big, real big. All of this contributes to the milk-shake like consistency of the beer. The color is of very dark brown, virtually black, and no light can make it through. This beer is thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m wishing that the beer wasn’t a limited release.

What should you pair this with you might ask? I paired it with the Great Gatsby movie, but your morning Wheaties (assuming you don’t have anywhere else to go after a 9.2% ABV beer)  would be an equally appropriate for this Coffee Porter.

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Bottling Scott’s (Imperial) Sparkling Weisbier

I finally bottled the weisbier. Only a week late, but it was on National Homebrew Day. Plus, it might have even needed the extra time with such a high original gravity.

I used about the same process as when I  bottled Kuyken’s Coffee Stout. I did lay a lot more towels on the floor as you’ll see below.

Sometimes getting the hose on things is a real pain in the ass.

The reason I’m now calling this an Imperial Weisbier is that when I read the Final Gravity, it was 1014. It’s a good final gravity, but if I read the refractometer correctly after brewing (and the hydrometer read ever higher than that), the original gravity was 1081. That’s an alcohol by volume of about 9%. The mostly alcoholic beer I’ve ever brewed. It was suppose to be a refreshing summer beer with an ABV of about 5%, but oh well, that’s homebrewing for you. Of course, I could have misread the original gravity. We’ll just have to see how it drinks. If its overpowering, I’ll just have to brew it again. What a shame.

I had a real mess to clean up in here.

I siphoned it into the bucket. I remembered to make the priming sugar solution early this time, so that it had plenty of time to cool off before mixing it into the beer. If you remember my last bottling experience, I forgot to make it until I had started siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket. Kind of a time set back there.

This was a pain to clean. I had to get out the hose.

The yeast left a pretty nice ring around the bucket. It did its job well. The beer itself tasted great. So far, this is my favorite pre-carbonated beer. It really tasted like clove and bananas. More clove to me, and more banana to Amy (because she hates banana).

Strategic use of towels will save you a big cleanup.

With Amy capping (and taking pictures), and me filling, the job went pretty quick. With a double layer of towels down, all the spilled beer was easily cleaned up. In about two weeks the beer will be ready for drinking.

Scott’s Sparkling Weissbier

I think it’s high time for a brew session. It’s been months since my last one. With summer coming up, it might just be time to try my first wheat beer. It is a rather difficult beer to brew when brewing all grain, but as an extract brewer it is straightforward. The complicated part of making a wheat beer is the mash. Unlike barley, wheat tends to get sticky and gummy when wet. It is great for making bread, and if’ you’ve ever made bread you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s the reason wheat is traditionally used for bread and barley is traditionally used for beer. Since it should be simple, it’s also a great beer as an introduction for brewing. I based this beer on one from my Radical Brewing book by Randy Mosher.

The recipe I came up with is the following:

  • 1.5lb of Dry Pale Malt Extract
  • 6.25lb of Liquid Malt Wheat Extract
  • Wyeast #3068 Weihenstephan Weizen Liquid Yeast

Since in a wheat beer, the hops kind of take a back seat, I’ve gone to my refrigerator to see what I have at hand. Right now I have Nugget, Cascade and Northern Brewer. I don’t want to use Cascade, as that will impart a particularly American flair to a beer that I’m trying to do in a Bavarian style. This leaves me with Northern Brewer and Nugget, which are both bittering hops. I’ll probably use Northern brewer since I may want to save the higher Alpha Acid Nuggets to use on other beers with more of bitterness to them. I might finish with Tettnang if the Brew store has them as this is a traditional hop to use in a weiss beer like this.

Beer Smith tells me that this recipe will have the following attributes:

  • IBU = 14 (depending on my choice of hops)
  • SRM (color scale) = 7.9
  • Original Gravity = 1.058
  • Estimate ABV= 5.8%

Beer Smith claims that some of these are slightly outside the normal range of a Weiss Beer, but who cares? What matters is that it tastes good. Mosher tends to not let BJCP style guidelines worry him. He is the radical brewer after all.  I also always seem to get slight differences from what the Radical Brewing book claims I’ll get and what Beersmith Claims I’ll get. This happened for my Coffee Stout as well, and my own measurements of gravity where closer to what the Radical Brewing book said I would get.

I’m going to try to head to my local Brew and Grow this Saturday and hopefully brew up the beer on Sunday.

Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock Lager

During the  mid 17th century, Paulenar monks outside of Munich Gemany where looking for something to get them through the many times of the year they were required to fast. For the monks, this was no easy feat. When they fasted, the monks were allowed almost no solid foods. This could become particularly hard during the longest period of  fasting, which was of course the Lenten season -about 46 days. The monks believed liquid was more pure and would cleanse not only the body, but the soul.

They don’t call beer, liquid bread for nothing, but to subsist only on beer requires something a little more substantial than your everyday light drinking beer. The monks took a style of beer from their neighbors to the north in the town of Einbeck and increased the strength as to be sustaining.  Eventually they converted the beer to the more modern lager process in Germany and increased the strength until we got the beer that you can still find at your local liquor store called Salvator in the late 18th century. This became the style know as doppelbock or double bock.

Was drinking this very strong and tasty beer cheating for lent? That’s the exact question the monks asked themselves, so they sought to get permission from the pope himself and sent a barrel of the beer so the pope could try it and decide once and for all. Luckily for the monks, during the journey south, the beer was exposed to a lot of heat and sloshing, which basically soured the beer and made it undrinkable (not that all sour beer is bad of course). The Pope’s reasoning was that since the brew was so vile, it was probably beneficial for the souls of the Munich monks, and they should drink as much as they could.

Once the secret of these great beer got out, other breweries started making their own versions of doppelbock, and most of them paid homage to the original by appending –ator on the end of the beers name. This is true in the case of Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, and Tucher Bajuvator, The beer we are looking at today is not one of these. It is an entirely American version of the doppel bock style, and it includes both Rye and a smokey profile.

This is the first smoked beer I have talked about. Before more modern methods of malting barley, most barley was malted using wood or peat kilns. Only desert dwelling people had enough sun to dry the malt without requiring a smoky fire. This necessitated certain smokiness in each beer. From earlier writings,  it is pretty clear that brewers considered the smokiness a bad quality and did everything they could to limit it, and when newer kilning methods were developed maltsters were quick to change over. There were a few holdouts in German Marzen (Oktoberfest) style and the Polish Grodzisk, but virtually all smoked versions or styles died out by modern times.

This  is of course until the Americans started to brew good beer again in the last few decades. With no real beer tradition anymore, we were free from all social and cultural pressures to stick to certain styles like the Germans and to a lesser extent even the English.  With nobody being alive from the last time smoked beers were common place, there was no longer any stigma to having a smoky flavor profile in a beer, and a small by wide niche of smoked beers have emerged. One of them in New Hollands Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock Lager. A celebration of all things Pig (as you can see from the label), especially Charcuterie. Charcuterie is branch of cooking devoted to prepared meats like bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pates, and confit.  Which of course is a very German idea, and fits into the idea of Doppelbock pretty well. Of course, instead of replacing solid food with the beer, the beer is intended to complement all things pork.

According to my bottle (but not the website), this beer is 8.4% ABV, and has a gravity of 21 plato, which is an astounding original gravity of 1.087.

Aroma
When you smell this you are basically smelling smoked malt and nothing else. Kind of surprising if you’ve never smelled something like this before.

Appearance
Very dark brown, almost black. It has a large brownish white head.

Tatse
A large amount of smoke taste up front, with a smooth malt behind. It is almost a struggle between the smokiness and the maltiness.  One second I’m tasting smoke and then the next I’m tasting malt, but never really at the same time.

Mouthfeel
Heavy body, but surprisingly smooth.

Overall Impression
This kind of surprised me at the amount of smoke that hits you when you smell and then taste it. Not really having had other smoked beers, I can’t compare the smokiness level. It is a good smooth beer, and would go great with cured sausages and pulled pork, or anything made by real BBQ. The alcohol will definitely sneak up on you with this beer.

Hemp in a Beer?

We take a complete 180 from where we were before. Up until now I’ve talked about a few more traditional European beers. Now we travel to the US, where things are a little … different. Oh sure, there are breweries that attempt authentic recreations of traditional old world styles, but Americans are more brash, more individualist, and less culturally conservative, and it really shows in the beer. The late English Beer and Whiskey writer Michael Jackson (no relation to the singer) would surprise European audiences by saying that American Beer was the best place in the world for beer.

Hemp, and Hop, and Rye oh my.

Take this Beer. There are two two ingredients that are not very common in a beer. The first is rye, which has been added to beer at various times throughout history. Largely when barely was too expensive. It is actually my favorite adjunct. It lends a real spiciness to a beer, that you just don’t really get from any other grain ingredient.

The many uses for Hemp.

Hemp you say? Like Marijuana? Am I going to get high drinking this beer? Well, no. Hemp generally has a THC content less than %1. It is like drinking non-alcoholic beer. Besides, hemp is extremely good for you. And guess what certain flowering plant is closely related to cannabis? That’s right, Hops are part of the Cannabaceae family. In fact, hops them self have nice calming affect when drunk as a hop tea (don’t eat hops unless you like to hug your toilet).

Now to the Beer, O’fallons Hemp Hop Rye. O’fallon’s is a brewery in Missouri that also makes the 5 -day IPA. So-called, because they dry hop for 5 days, although I personally think it drinks more like a Pale Ale than an IPA.

The Hemp Hop Rye is an American Amber Ale which is most noticeable due to the addition of Hemp and Rye to the mix.

Aroma

The Aroma is similar to other American Ambers, with some maltiness in addition to the citrus flavors from the hops.

Appearance

A hazy brown color. The head is an off-white, and as you can see from the picture, it has massive head retention.

Taste

The taste is spicy fruit cake like. The spice from the rye and the citrus from the hops. It tastes sweet up front, but has a good level of balancing bitterness on the back end. The hemp brings a good roundness to the beer.

Mouthfeel

Medium body, with a good amount of carbonation.

Overall

This is actually one of my favorite beers. I already tend to really like rye beers, but I think this is probably the best one I’ve had.  It is very drinkable, but definitely not forgettable. I’m not too sure how much the hemp adds to the beer, but maybe it adds more than I realize judging by how much I like this.